Tag Archives: Politics

Have you met a psychopath?

5 things I’ve noticed about… Alex Jones

via The Soap Box

AlexJonesMoron_240pxWhile there are a lot things I could say about radio host/conspiracy theorists Alex Jones (and it would be a lot) I noticed a few things he seems to do quite a bit.

So here are five things I’ve noticed about Alex Jones:

• 5 – His sites have a lot of advertisements on them.

If you go to either of his two main websites (Infowars and Prisonplanet) there are a lot of advertisements on the right side of those websites. Not only are there ads for other people’s products, but also for his own products as well (mainly his videos).

And his websites have their their own shop pages where you can buy more of his videos and other merchandise.

• 4 – He always tells people he is not crazy.

Alex always seems to need to remind people that he is not crazy (in his view). I don’t know why he feels the needs to do this. I don’t know why people would believe he is crazy in the first place…

Maybe it’s because he does stuff like this:

Author’s note: go two minutes in. That’s when the best stuff starts.

• 3 – He’s against fascism and totalitarianism… unless it’s in another country.

While Alex Jones is a notorious outspoken critic of anything that he perceives as fascism and totalitarianism in this country, he apparently has no problem with it in other countries (especially countries that the US has very poor diplomatic relations with).

A good example of this would be . . . MORE . . .

The Power of Confirmation Bias

via NeuroLogica Blog

It is … not enough to have a generally skeptical outlook, or even to call oneself a skeptic. Skepticism is a journey of self-knowledge, exploration, and mastering the various skills that comprise so-called metacognition – the ability to think about thinking.

[…]

ConfirmationBias2As an example of the need for metacognitive skills in navigating this complex world there is confirmation bias. This is definitely on my top 5 list of core skeptical concepts, and is a major contributor to faulty thinking. Confirmation bias is the tendency to perceive and accept information that seems to confirm our existing beliefs, while ignoring, forgetting, or explaining away information that contradicts our existing beliefs. It is a systematic bias that works relentlessly and often subtly to push us in the direction of a desired or preexisting conclusion or bias. Worse – it gives us a false sense of confidence in that conclusion. We think we are following the evidence, when in fact we are leading the evidence.

Part of the illusion of evidence created by confirmation bias is the fact that there is so much information out there in the world. We encounter numerous events, people, and bits of data every day. Our brains are great at sifting this data for meaningful patterns, and when we see the pattern we think, “What are the odds? That cannot be a coincidence, and so it confirms my belief.” Rather, the odds that you would have encountered something that could confirm your belief was almost certain, given the number of opportunities.

Another factor that plays into confirmation bias is using open-ended criteria, or ad-hoc or post-hoc analysis. This means that we decide after we encounter a bit of information that this information confirms our belief. We retrofit the new data into our belief as confirmation.

Confirmation bias is further supported by a network of cognitive flaws – logical fallacies, heuristics, and other cognitive biases – that conspire together to reinforce our existing beliefs. In the end you have people who, based on the same underlying reality, arrive at confidently and firmly held conclusions that are directly opposing and mutually exclusive.

I encounter examples of confirmation bias every day. (My now favorite quote about this is from Jon Ronson, who said, “After I learned about confirmation bias I started seeing it everywhere.”) Of course, at first it is easy to see confirmation bias in others, and only later do we learn to detect it in ourselves, which forever remains challenging.

MORE . . .

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